SK Telecom commercialises world’s first tri-band LTE-A service

South Korean mobile operator aggregates three different frequency bands to provide peak speed of 300Mbps enabling users to download a 1GB movie in just 28 seconds

SK Telecom commercialises world’s first tri-band LTE-A service

SK Telecom launched a commercial tri-band LTE-Advanced (LTE-A) service on 29 December 2014 for the first time in the world, the South Korean operator claimed.

Tri-band LTE-A service offers data speeds of up to 300Mbps by aggregating three component carriers in three different frequency bands: 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band, 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band, and 10MHz bandwidth in 2.1GHz band.

The service is four times faster than LTE and 21 times faster than 3G service. For instance, at its peak speed, tri-band LTE-A service allows users to download a 1GB movie in only 28 seconds.

Prior to this commercialisation of tri-band LTE-A carrier aggregation (CA), SK Telecom has been offering LTE-A service by aggregating two carriers. It launched 150Mbps LTE-A service by aggregating 10MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band in June 2013

It began 225Mbps wideband LTE-A service by aggregating 20MHz bandwidth in 1.8GHz band and 10MHz bandwidth in 800MHz band in June 2014, with the operator again claiming a world first.

The company developed the world’s first tri-band LTE-A CA technology in January 2014 and successfully demonstrated the 450Mbps tri-band LTE-A by binding three 20MHz bands at the Mobile World Congress 2014, held in Barcelona, Spain in February 2014.

Moreover, with the successful commercialisation of tri-band LTE-A CA, SK Telecom said it not only secures an important edge in LTE-A 4-band CA and 5-band CA, but also moves a step closer to realizing 5G service. The company, under its technology roadmap on 5G, is making aggressive efforts to develop the world’s fastest telecommunication technology.

SK Telecom plans to offer tri-band LTE-A service coverage in Korea. In order to provide tri-band LTE-A service, base stations that support three different frequency bands are required. Tri-band LTE-A is offered in areas where coverage of all three component carriers intersect. Tri-band LTE-A is offered in areas where signals from all three frequency bands – i.e. 800MHz, 1.8GHz, 2.1GHz – overlap.

Since the company has already secured wideband LTE-A coverage in the main areas of all 84 cities nationwide - meaning that it already has in place 800MHz and 1.8GHz base stations - it can offer tri-band LTE-A service by simply adding 2.1GHz base stations.

The company plans to build more than 26,000 2.1GHz base stations within the first quarter of 2015 to provide its customers with the fastest mobile telecommunications service in the Seoul/ Seoul metropolitan area, central areas of all cities nationwide as well as all subway lines in Korea.

The Galaxy Note 4 S-LTE, the first tri-band LTE-A capable device, will first be sold limitedly to a group of consumers who wish to use the service ahead of others and provide feedback on issues including its performance (e.g. speed, transmission stability, etc.) and convenience features.

Through this process, SK Telecom aims to further improve its tri-band LTE-A service to better meet its customers’ needs and provide them with greater value through new mobile value-added services optimized for the ultra-fast tri-band LTE-A. SK Telecom subscribers, including this group of early users, will be able to enjoy the new service at the same price as LTE.

Lee Jong-bong, executive vice president and head of Network Division, said: “With the launch of the world’s first tri-band LTE-A service, we will not only provide our customers with unprecedented network speeds, but also offer differentiated and diverse mobile value-added services that meet customers’ needs and interests.”

Evolution of SK Telecoms Mobile Telecommunications Services







Wideband LTE-A

Tri-band LTE-A

Commercial Launch Date

Oct. 2000

May 2006

Jul. 2011

Jun. 2013

Jun. 2014

Dec. 2014

Download Speed







Time required to download a 1GB (1024MB) Movie


9min. 29sec.

1min. 50sec.





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